The stakes are a little higher for Foothill League boys golf this year.
No team made it past the first round of team playoffs last season, giving the entire league something to prove.
On top of that, there are only five postseason spots available for individual golfers, instead of six, enhancing the competition.
Here’s how each team plans to compete this year, in the order they finished last season:
Starting with the youngest golfer, freshman Ashton Lee has cracked the lineup, sitting in the No. 5 position.
“It was nice to see a freshman that is trying to work his game and take the lessons and play in tournaments,” Holen said. “He’s going to help us from the very beginning.”
Another underclassman, sophomore Favian Boswal, will also be working his way toward the top half of the lineup this year.
Two juniors, Gunnar Murray and Diego Renteria, gained tournament experience over the summer that will likely reflect in league scores.
“The tournament experience is making them more comfortable on the course,” Holen said. “Hopefully by the time we get rolling, it’ll show in their scoring.”
The team has another Foothill League title in sight after winning its eighth in nine years last season and would like to send three players to compete in individual playoffs.
“We take it one match at a time,” Holen said. “Move slow and move through the process of it.”
The Indians’ top three golfers are pretty clear this season.
Leading off is junior Jess Scheller, who is poised to have his most impressive season yet after completing a strong sophomore campaign.
Behind him in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots are Art Thompson and Jason Yoo.
“It’s a team that has a good amount of experience,” said coach Steve Lindberg. “They’re maturing not only with their ability to play golf but they’re maturing with their mental capacity.”
Adoriel Alamshah has moved up from the junior varsity team, where he was the top player last year.
Hart, which was eliminated in the first round of CIF-SS play last season, is focusing on improving in each round.
“They have moments of inconsistency but then they have flashes of brilliance,” said Lindberg.
The Cents have been introduced to some new golf equipment this season: pen and paper.
At the end of each day, each player will record the best and worst parts of his round as a means of identifying strengths and weaknesses.
“They map out every hole, and they map out the wasted shots and how many chips and shots,” said coach Cal Linam. “You’re going to see recurring errors on there.”
Although Linam said that there will be recurring competition for the top spot, Riley Hermann will be leading the pack.
“He can go low,” Linam, who coached JV last year, said. “(He’s) very consistent, always reliable and takes the pressure off everyone else.”
Benny Emeterio, Braeden Boss, Rylie Watson, Trevor Daher and Ethan Le Blanc will round out the group, in that order.
Senior Ray Asuncion has the physical skill, but he will be working on his mental game to become a more complete golfer for the Grizzlies.
“He’s very quiet, he doesn’t say two words. He’s the kind of kid that puts the work in,” said coach Tony Moskal.
Tyler Richardson, a freshman up-and-coming player for GV who also is sharpening his mental abilities, and Ryan Machado have proven to be some of the hardest working golfers on the team.
“He’s been my pleasant surprise,” said Moskal of Machado. “He’s a kid that works. He’s not the kind of kid to take lessons, but he goes to the range and he’ll work and try and get better.”
The top spot for the Vikings once again belongs to Jackson Bright, who missed individual playoffs last year after making the cut his sophomore year.
Hot on his heels for the No. 1 position, however, is Cole Scully, a sophomore.
“He hits the ball a mile,” said coach Robert Waters. “He won the long drive competition at 300 yards. Most guys that hit the ball a long way lack soft hands around the green. And he doesn’t. He has a nice touch, which is nice.”
With a lineup of Bright, Scully, Zach Vallesteros, Evan Shepard and Torrin Jenson (with the final spot undecided), Valencia is aiming to make it to the playoffs on either a team or individual basis.
“We really struggled last year,” Waters said. “Our goal this year is to get back into that playoff scene considering our school has always had at least a team or one individual qualify for playoffs since the school opened.”
The Cowboys have only one returner this season: Sam Funakoshi, a senior.
“He’s just a very levelheaded golfer who doesn’t get emotional about the game,” said coach Brian Ingino. “Not a lot of ups and downs.”
Two up-and-comers, Logan Yamoka and Adam Rodriguez, will be developing throughout this season to build up Canyon’s varsity experience.
“We’re just pretty much trying to get better each and every day with matches and learn how to manage the bigger courses, coming from JV,” Ingino said.